After nearly seven years as a social worker in hospice, I recently decided to become a nurse. Being a social worker helped me understand patients’ psycho-social needs, but I wanted to understand the physiology behind it all.
I never would have gone back to school to become an RN if it weren’t for the amazing hospice nurses and families that I interact with every day. Every nurse supported me, taught me, and inspired me to be a better social worker, and soon a hospice nurse.
Be the Nurse You Would Want for Yourself
I had the honor of giving the commencement speech at my nursing school pinning last month. I told them to “Be the nurse you would want for yourself.” Here are the three main ways to accomplish that:
- Learn who your patients are, and build relationships with them. You can be an agent of change if you just take off your stethoscope, learn your patients’ names (first and last), and not just their room number. If you learn about WHO they are, you will learn about WHAT they really need. When you build these relationships, you become a better nurse, a better advocate, and you will have an improved ability to assess and manage your patients. You will bear witness to some of the most intimate of moments, like the first time a patient is told he has cancer, when a mother delivers her first child, or when a family makes the difficult to decision to wean their loved one off life support. We are the visitors in our patients’ lives, but you are given the great privilege to be present in these experiences.
- Put yourself in your patients’ shoes. Be more than the nurse who brings in medications. Be with them, be compassionate, empathetic, LISTEN. Be a true healer. Be the nurse you would want to have caring for you, and be SAME compassionate person when no one is watching. When it’s just you and Mr. Smith, take five minutes and listen to his story.
- Do not take your responsibility lightly. When you do this, you will be imparted with a great gift in return: inner peace. You will be able to go home at night and truly know you have done everything you can. At the end of the most hellish day, write down words of gratitude, tokens of hope you experienced in the day and reflect back on them. Allow yourself to experience these moments and have them motivate you. Knowing someone’s story helps make the patients more real to us and makes the job more personal. We become part of their story. In its most basic form, nursing can be seen as a duty; however, the profession is really about the grace that nurses show. Helping people is a noble calling, and it is a privilege to serve.
Thanks to Care Dimensions for Support
The staff at Care Dimensions have been most supportive of my career shift to nursing. I couldn’t have done it without their support and understanding during the past two years of pursuing my education at night and on weekends while working full-time. I would not be the person, the social worker, or the nurse I wish to be without all of YOU, my hospice teammates who have inspired me to be the best I can be for those who need us most, the patients. Care Dimensions helped make my ambition a reality by not only granting me tuition reimbursement, but also giving me a scholarship that supports staff members who attend nursing school. Thank you!
To learn about the benefits and rewards of working at Care Dimensions, visit our Careers page.
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